A female executive producer and a number of staffers have quit Talking Dead after AMC reinstated Chris Hardwick as host of the talk show.
The producer and a ‘handful’ of the show’s 25-person staff left their jobs in protest after Hardwick was accused of abusing ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra.
It was revealed in June that Hardwick, 46, was the ex-boyfriend that Dykstra, 29, claimed had controlled and sexually assaulted her on a regular basis.
AMC temporarily removed Hardwick as host of the talk show, which discusses episodes of The Walking Dead, and launched an investigation.
Two weeks ago the network announced Hardwick would be returning to work.
‘We take these matters very seriously and given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step,’ it said in a statement.
Hardwick and staffers of Talking Dead had a ‘very emotional’ meeting on Wednesday, according to The Wrap.
Sources said that Hardwick gathered the staff and apologized for the scandal. They described his demeanor as ‘apologetic and contrite’.
Hardwick also reportedly told staff members he would have one-on-one meetings with anyone who wanted to address additional concerns.
In the essay titled Rose-Colored Glasses: A Confession, Dykstra said she experienced ‘long-term abuse’ by her ex-boyfriend, who she said was 20 years older than her. The actress wrote that she met him at a convention when she was in her early twenties.
Dykstra, an actor and cosplayer, wrote that the relationship ‘started out poorly’ and that her boyfriend had given her a set of rules she had to follow within the first two weeks after they started dating.
Some of them included her reserving her nights for her ex. Dykstra said because he had a busy schedule, she rarely saw her friends.
‘I was to not have close male friends unless we worked together. All photos of male friends were to be removed from my apartment. This was heartbreaking for me, as my best friend happened to be male,’ she wrote about rule number two.
Dykstra was also not allowed to have alcohol, because her boyfriend was sober. Hardwick has often discussed his struggles with alcohol addiction.
‘Before we began dating he said, “I noticed you have a glass of wine with dinner. That’s going to stop,’” she wrote.
According to the actress, other rules included not speaking in public places because he thought ‘people recognized him and were listening to our conversations.’
‘Our dinners out were usually silent, him on his phone,’ she added.
Dykstra also said she wasn’t allowed to take photos of them together. While her boyfriend eventually loosened up on that rule, she still always had to ask for his permission first.
‘These were just a few of them. And I made the choice to accept his controlling behavior, as he’d just left his long-term girlfriend and I assumed that he was going through some serious emotional discomfort. This was a huge mistake,’ she wrote.
The essay stated that the man would leave Dykstra in hotel rooms while he attended events and he forced her to take an on-camera job at his company. Dykstra wrote that she was against working for a significant other but she took the position because she was ‘scared to upset him’.
‘I accepted the job, but I refused payment for my work, feeling uncomfortable about the whole thing (though the lovely folks at his company eventually forced me to take a check). By this time, like I said, I was terrified to piss him off- so I did what he said,’ she posted.
Dykstra also accused her ex of sexually assaulting her on a regular basis before their breakup in 2014.
‘I was expected to be ready for him when he came home from work…Every night, I laid there for him, occasionally in tears. He thought the whole idea was funny,’ she wrote. ‘To be fair, I did go along with it out of fear of losing him.’
Dykstra said after three years of ‘being snapped/yelled at constantly, very rarely being shown any affection’ she ended the relationship. Her ex, according to Dykstra, retaliated by blacklisting her.
In a statement, Hardwick said: ‘I was heartbroken to read Chloe’s post. Our three-year relationship was not perfect – we were ultimately not a good match and argued – even shouted at each other – but I loved her, and did my best to uplift and support her as a partner and companion in any way and at no time did I sexually assault her.
‘When we were living together, I found out that Chloe cheated on me, and I ended the relationship.’
‘I’m devastated to read that she is now accusing me of conduct that did not occur. I was blindsided by her post and always wanted the best for her. As a husband, a son, and future father, I do not condone any kind of mistreatment of women.’
This week Dykstra tweeted that she still stands by ‘every single word’ of her essay.
‘I made sure it was unembellished, factual, and that I had evidence to back it up in order to protect my self in case of ACTUAL litigation (not a network investigation, where I’m not protected’, she wrote.
After Dykstra’s blog post went viral, multiple Talking Dead staffers told The Wrap that Hardwick was known for outbursts and loud confrontations that were similar to those his ex had described.
And a former employee who worked for Hardwick at Nerdist claimed he made it hard for individuals to find work in the future if he felt they had betrayed him, just as Dykstra claimed he derailed her career following their break-up.
Hardwick’s name has since been restored on the Nerdist website, which he co-founded.
He has also been reinstated as host of NBC’s prime time game show The Wall and appeared as a guest judge on America’s Got Talent last week.